Moorhen
By Kittie Jones

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Year
2012
Media
Printmaking
Subject Matter
Animals
Reg. Number
G1504
Size
37.5 x 38.5 cm

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There is a strong impression of the character of the birds in this print. One moorhen is skulking along the edge of the paper in the foreground with another bird standing in the water facing the other way. In her blog 'September's Soliloquy' Kittie Jones writes 'A young moorhen on the Water of Leith immediately outside my studio has taken my interest in the last couple of weeks. Carefully attended to by both parents it has managed to survive so far despite some wild September weather – it seems a bit late in the season to have such a small chick and it is very exposed on the Water of Leith so fingers crossed it survives'.

The spiky, yellow reeds are a striking part of the composition. The eye is drawn from the top right corner down to the bottom left by the angle of the reeds, the tilt of the bird, front leg and wing markings. Kittie hand-draws each colour layer and makes her stencils photographically. This is how she is able to produce the marks that give her prints such a lively quality. These expressive lines create layers of texture on top of larger blocks of colour. Against the rich, warm green and blues, the intensity of the red and yellow shine bright. An irregular outline is given to the print by torn paper edges and there are small areas left unprinted for the white feather markings. This print is number 7 out of an edition of 17.

Since graduating Kittie's interest in drawing directly from life and how these drawings can be developed into finished pieces has been brought into focus. Her main subject matter is nature and man's relationship with it.

"I am interested in conveying a sense of my own fascination, wonder and joy at the natural world. I am lucky enough to be passionate about my subject matter, and learning more all the time. I usually start on location, often with a hot flask and my waterproof trousers, making sketches and drawings from life. The captured moment with an animal or bird when I am out and about is my starting point for many of the pieces. The immediacy of drawing animals and birds from life means you have to work quickly and be prepared to make a lot of sketches to get the information you need. The first few drawings of any particular bird are always clumsy and then you start getting a feel for its particular shape and movement. Back in the studio I develop my sketches into paintings, drawings and prints which combine real life experience with my own imaginative perception of a scene.

The work I have donated to Art in Healthcare is part of a series of prints I've been building up since 2010. Square in format, they depict common British Birds and aim to celebrate the rich variety of species we have in Britain around us all the time. I like to make work that contains a narrative; this is helped by bringing out a sense of character and purpose in the creatures that I draw. Back in the studio I work up my drawings into designs for prints. The technique of screen printing allows me to use saturated colours and to layer colours with different levels of transparency.

My interest in birds has been developing over time – I find them both visually arresting and fascinating in terms of how they live alongside man. Their ability to remain free from man's grasp and understanding fascinates and delights me. As I learn more about the birds that live or visit Britain I become increasingly engaged with them as subject matter."

Kittie Jones is a painter and printmaker – she produces small edition screen prints, unique multi-layered monotypes, charcoal and ink wash drawings and mixed media paintings on paper. Kittie graduated from Edinburgh College of Art and Edinburgh University in 2008. She currently works from her studio at Coburg House Studios in Leith and regularly exhibits around the UK. Kittie is a professional member of Visual Arts Scotland and in 2011 her screen print 'Night Herons' was jointly awarded the Maude Gemmell Hutcheson Prize by the Royal Scottish Academy.

Kittie Jones blog post on her working methods